A new strain of COVID-19 is causing concern as cases are rising across the country and throughout South Georgia. Since the Delta variant surfaced this summer, its caused more infections and has spread faster than early forms of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Here’s what you need to know about the Delta variant.
1. The Delta variant is highly contagious
Studies show the Delta variant is more than 2x as contagious as previous virus variants.
“The Delta variant has proven to be highly contagious and likely to cause more severe disease than early forms of the virus,” said Dr. Kristopher Palmer, a physician and Director of Hospital Medicine at Archbold Memorial Hospital. “We’ve seen a drastic increase in cases at our hospitals over the past four to six weeks since the Delta variant surfaced.”
2. What are the symptoms of the Delta variant?
Symptoms of the Delta variant are similar to those seen with the original coronavirus strain and other variants.
“Some of the common symptoms patients are experiencing are persistent cough, headache, fever, and sore throat,” said Dr. Palmer.
3. Unvaccinated people are at the highest risk for the Delta variant
Unvaccinated people are much more likely to get infected with the Delta variant and therefore transmit the virus. In rare cases, fully vaccinated people can get COVID-19 (known as breakthrough infections). However, unvaccinated people are at greater risk of contracting the virus. They typically experience more severe symptoms, as well.
People infected with the Delta variant, including fully vaccinated people with symptomatic breakthrough infections, can transmit the virus to others.
“Unfortunately vaccines aren’t 100% effective at preventing any illness. However, the intent behind the COVID-19 vaccine is to provide the best protection against serious illness and death, should you contract a breakthrough case of the virus.”
4. Vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe disease and death
“The COVID-19 vaccines are playing a crucial role in limiting the spread of the virus,” said Dr. Palmer. “We are seeing that the vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe disease and death related to the Delta variant. This is why we recommend everyone over the age of 12 years old get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
5. Vaccinations will prevent future mutations of the virus from emerging
According to the CDC, high vaccination coverage will reduce the spread of the virus and help prevent new variants from emerging.
“Communities with low vaccination rates are seeing a rapid surge in cases involving the Delta variant,” said Dr. Palmer. “Until the majority of the population is vaccinated, we could continue to see even more variants of the virus emerge, and that’s very concerning.”
For more information on COVID-19 vaccinations and vaccine clinics available at Archbold click here.